WASHINGTON DC, Feb 13, 2005 | ISSN: 1684-2057 | www.satribune.com

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Pakistan Army Says Rapist Officer in Custody, Being Investigated

By M T Butt

ISLAMABAD, February 13: After a nationwide uproar, protests, demonstrations and condemnation worldwide, Pakistan Army has reluctantly conceded it had taken Captain Hammad, the officer accused of gang raping the lady doctor in Sui, Balochistan, into custody.

The rape earlier in January and the subsequent armed rebellion in Sui cost the country billions in economic losses and incalculable loss of prestige but for weeks the Army refused to even investigate the charges against the Captain.

Major General Shaukat Sultan, Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) confirmed to The Daily Times of Lahore on Saturday that Captain Hammad was “in custody.” But he tried to play down the arrest saying: “He was taken into custody a few days ago and was being investigated.”

Why the Army kept his “detention” a closely guarded secret for so many days is still a mystery as the Balochi nationalists and Parliamentarians of all parties were unanimously demanding his arrest prior to any serious negotiations to avert an Army operation against Balochi tribesmen. The entire Parliament was in uproar demanding action against the rapists but the Army kept on stalling.

South Asia Tribune has learnt that the belated admission that Capt Hammad was ‘in custody’ was merely a political statement as he had been told to stay with his family, not to move about until “investigations” were completed to clear his name.

Captain Hammad is not under arrest because if that had been so, he should have been produced before any legal authority, any court of law, whether military of civilian.

In fact, South Asia Tribune has learnt, that he was being provided full protection by the top aides of General Musharraf himself. “Hammad is a nephew of the wife of a key Corps Commander posted north of Rawalpindi who is also related to General Musharraf’s military staff, a Major General,” one source in the Presidency said.

These powerful relatives of Captain Hammad have been delaying all action by police and even Army high command, against him despite the fact that he was pinpointed by the PPL Hospital staff and the Defence Services Group in which he was posted at Sui.

These links also explain the virtual lack of authority and helplessness of the Balochistan Government in dealing with the rape case, as any rape case should have been dealt with under the law, whether civil or military.

When the rape was reported early in January, and Police took action to record statements and arrest those involved, the Army authorities forced the PPL management to cover up the case, refuse permission to the Police to meet the raped lady doctor and shifted her illegally to Karachi. Later Army officers physically intervened and beat the Dera Bugti Police officials out of their area. They had to take refuge in neighboring Sindh.

Likewise when Police detained the doctors of PPL to record their statements, Army authorities again stopped them, making their interference so blatant that furious Baloch locals took up arms and began rocket attacks.

In desperation Baloch Police officials quietly sent the South Asia Tribune all their reports, letters and correspondence of PPL officials to prove that they were being obstructed by the Army in carrying out their legal duties.

While the Baloch tribesmen started an armed insurrection, human rights and women rights groups throughout the country began protests demanding the arrests of the real culprits and exposure of those who were protecting the criminals.

Now Major General Shaukat Sultan has officially admitted that Captain Hammad, the main accused, was with the Army authorities for many days. What action had been taken against him, under what law has he been booked, if so, or whether he is enjoying the cozy comforts of his home is not yet known.

Online News Agency reported on Saturday from Islamabad that a Special Army Investigation team has taken prime suspect in the lady doctor Shazia gang rape case Captain Hammad of Defense Services Group and five other army personnel into custody after finding fresh evidence in the case.

According to evidence gathered in the rape case three used condoms have been found from the room of Dr Shazia and after DNA tests of the semen in the condom it was found that the condoms were used by the same man.

According to DNA tests the hair samples taken from Dr Shazia's room belong to different people also some stains were also found on the pillow of her bed, Online News Agency reported.

In light of this fresh evidence the investigative circle has been widened and the investigative teams of police and the army are conducting their separate probes.

Online was told that all army personnel in custody including Captain Hammad would be made to take a DNA test after which Dr Shazia would be called to identify the rapist in a line up.

But the mystery still persists as it clearly appears that the Army authorities are dragging their feet and despite the fact that Capt. Hammad had been ‘in custody’ for several days, why has his DNA tests not been done as yet. Why has any civilian legal authorities been involved in the investigation is also not clear.

The whole process smacks of a huge Army cover up and would not be accepted as credible if Army authorities unilaterally declare that Capt Hammad was not guilty because no independent institution has been involved in either the investigations or the proceedings against the officer so far.

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